Editor’s Note: As steward to over 1500 Federal buildings — including many irreplaceable historic buildings in low-lying and other at-risk areas — the U.S. General Services Administration is sensitive to the threat of climate change. Fortunately, as the government’s leading supplier of utilities, buildings, and vehicles GSA also has opportunities to protect our environment. This week, to celebrate Earth Day 2016, we will be highlighting GSA’s efforts to combat climate change and protect our planet.
People often overlook the direct impact that the federal government can have on people and places. As the largest owner of federal buildings, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is charged with managing its inventory in an efficient and sustainable manner. Because of our sheer size, we are able to become a test bed for new technologies and systems that allows us to bring best practices to the marketplace. That sometimes results in GSA establishing a direct line of communication with students, industry groups, and private citizens.
Adjacent to the foothills of the Colorado Rockies, there is a one-square mile federal facility known as the Denver Federal Center (DFC) that more than 44 federal agencies call home. The DFC installed an 8 Megawatt DC photovoltaic system that provides approximately 22 percent of the DFC’s electrical needs annually.
Most of Colorado’s energy comes from coal-burning plants. Other sources that are used throughout the state include oil, hydropower, wind and solar power. Because Colorado has an average of 300 sunny days each year, solar energy is a great alternative.
The public is welcome to come to the DFC and experience either a self-guided solar park tour with on site interpretive signs or sometimes a guided tour. Recently, GSA has the opportunity to give more than 100 students from Mackintosh Academy and Columbine High School a tour of our solar park.
On the tour, the GSA project manager reviewed general, Colorado, and solar energy facts as well as DFC park facts. Students and faculty were encouraged to interact during the tours. The tour guide pointed out how energy works and how it is converted and they also review general sustainable tips. During the discussion, students are encouraged to share how they contribute to a more sustainable environment either in school or at home. “These students are the leaders in the future of sustainability and it is a very rewarding experience to be able to spend time with them by exchanging ideas and information,” said Michael Golenda, GSA project manager.
For more information about GSA’s sustainable program you can click here. DFC solar park details are also accessible at www.gsa.gov/dfcsolarpark.